nfl wives

#WCW WAG CRUSH WEEKLY 11/8 - HEAVEN DANIELS

#WCW WAG CRUSH WEEKLY 11/8 - HEAVEN DANIELS

Heaven is worthy of all the girl crushes. She's vocal about her faith and an amazing vocalist. She's a mother of three and a tv show host. I have personally met Heaven and Mike, and they are such an inspiration as a young couple navigating the pro sports life successfully.

He's Training and I'm Draining: Training Camp

Training camp is hard for WAGs. I don’t think people truly understand why or how. In all honesty, I didn't really either until I had to live it.  But here I am, three days in and all I can say is, IT SUCKS.

Featured WAG: Meg Haney

Featured WAG: Meg Haney

Meet Meg Haney, high school sweetheart and current fiancee to recent NFL draft pick and The University of Oklahoma's All-time leading running back, Samaje Perine. I first found out about Meg and Samaje through a fellow NFL WAG who tagged me in this super cute Instagram post of a college football player proposing to his girlfriend...

Featured WAGS: Behind the Brand with GetBodiedbyJ

Featured WAGS: Behind the Brand with GetBodiedbyJ

I sat down with J in the first ever "WAGS Chat" to discover more about the beauty behind the successful brand.

Me, Myself & I

Me, Myself & I

When I sat down to write this post, I labored over how I could articulate my points. How could I communicate the need to take care of myself when society forces the ideals that if women spend one minute to themselves then they are doomed to be bad wives, mothers, and businesswomen? 

Growing in God

Usually I can just sit down and start writing. The words just seem to flow but this time was different. I was nervous and anxious but I wasn't sure why. Despite knowing what I wanted to write about, I kept delaying the inevitable. Why wasn't it flowing? Why was I being so hesitant about writing this time? Was it because it was too personal or hitting a little too close to home? Or maybe I wasn't making it a priority. I decided "enough was enough" and I needed to get this out. I believe that if God puts something on your heart, you better listen. No need to miss blessings because of laziness. Throughout my journey in growing in God, I have tried to be a better person, making adjustments here and there just like we all do. Most of those changes didn't cause much of a fuss in my life and seemed easy— but then God challenged me. Why was it okay for me to grow in God but not others?

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. - Romans 14:13 NIV

We are all guilty of judging others. No matter how many church services we attend or holy communions we take, at some point in our lives we have judged someone else. Whether it be how they dress, how they look, or even how they raise their children. We have all done it. Primarily we judge others based on how their behavior or actions measure up to our moral compass. This is a part of life but I realized that even if the person has changed, often we don't allow the perception of how we think of them to change. We create this barrier in our minds that blocks out their growth. We refuse to believe that our pettiness is no longer warranted or excusable. I was guilty of all of these things. Why was I still holding on to stuff people did in college or even last year? How could I grow in God but not give them the grace that God so eagerly gives to us?

After the nagging feeling just wouldn't go away, I started to evaluate myself. I realized that whatever I was holding on to was holding me back from being greater. So I made a decision that I would allow others to grow in God. Who was I to refuse that? If someone reached out or apologized for their wrongs, I wouldn't secretly wish they didn't so I could be the “better person.” Also, I decided to not let the opinions of others prevent me from developing my own opinion of someone. Just like I grew, others can too.

As women in this crazy NFL life it is easy to just judge others or refuse to associate with someone based on who they used to be. As women we should challenge one another to grow in God not through criticism or judgment but through love. Growing in God is a blessing that is not limited to the few that qualify; it is open to everyone.

Featured WAGS Dionne Boldin: Wife, Mother, Philanthropist #GameChanger!

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Sincere, gracious, genuine, intelligent, chic and classy AND that is to say the least. Mrs. Dionne Boldin, wife of Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Anquan Boldin, is more than what meets the eye. Dionne is as fabulous as she appears in her killa’ #selfies we see on social media with a timeless air of bold self-confidence. A wife first, mother to two boys second and a philanthropist third, who believes in not only leaving a legacy of giving but creating the mindset to give as well.

Name: Dionne Boldin

Husband/Teams: Anquan Boldin (Cardinals, Ravens, 49ers, Lions)

Children: Ashton (6) & Anquan “AJ” (12)

What #hashtag describes you best: #gamechanger

FUN FACTS

Favorite place to vacation: It’s a tie between Greece & Paris

Best Concert you’ve EVER been to: Beyonce

Interesting Fact about yourself: I’m Jamaican

Hobbies: Traveling & cooking

Your favorite memory: Giving birth to my boys

PERSONAL DETAILS

Where are you originally from and how did you get to where you are now?

DB: I am from Belgrade, FL, which is a little town in West Palm Beach County. We now live in Delray Beach, FL so we are still surrounded by our family. We chose to live near this area specifically early on so we could be closer to our family and create a home base, which was especially important to us as the kids got older.

How did you and your husband meet? What’s your love story?

DB: We met in high school. He is from Pahake (FL), a neighboring small town to the one where I grew up so we have always known each other and we met in probably 5th grade. I was a junior and he was a senior when we started dating in high school. After that, we both went to the same college, Florida State University.

ON THE NFL

What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?

DB: I like the platform it affords us. The ability to be able to walk into a scenario where you instantly have a platform for whatever your cause may be has always meant a lot to me. As a wife, there is a fine line between staying in a supportive role to your husband and positioning your platform in a way that you are grabbing the right audiences as well. Your presence, your behavior is important because people are always watching to see if you are going to screw up and that makes a difference as far as the type of “positioning” and respect you’ll garner. I have known my husband since he was very young so it has always been great to be able to see him live his dream. What I don’t like about it (and that’s the hard part because we knew what we signed up for)--I do miss having privacy. I miss being able to go anywhere and him not being noticed. I will say that I don’t like the scrutiny that the guys get. The fans can rip them apart for the smallest things and they are seen as“just athletes” when in reality, many of these men are fathers, husbands and genuinely good guys.

WR: What are some of your favorite fondest WAGS memories?

DB: I like the camaraderie. Every team has their own sense of camaraderie and there are always a few wives who will reach out to you when you first arrive. From team to team, I have picked up life-long friends. Whether we are out to dinner with the girls or at a game, those moments (the time spent together) are some of my favorite memories. Of course, Super Bowl year with the Ravens was another fond memory. My time in San Francisco was one of my favorite memories.  In both Baltimore and San Francisco, I led the women's Bible studies.  Being one of the “older girls” in the group, I enjoyed seeing the younger girls grow. I learned so much about each of these girls and really enjoyed pouring into them.

ON FASHION & STYLE

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WR: Is fashion a hobby for you or a love? We’ve seen your Instagram looks and are impressed to say the least!

DB: I’ve kinda always loved fashion. Over the years, I have tried to switch it up and make my look different and fun. I went out on a limb last year and brought on a stylist.  We have been working together for over a year so at this point, we are friends now and we’re just having fun! In my free time, we talk fashion and put looks together. At some point in my life, I will be in the fashion industry. Where? I don’t know. For now, I am building my budding  personal shopping concierge service called The Art of Shopping.

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WR: What are your favorite pieces and collections that you have been wearing recently?

DB: Everything Gucci is doing is really great right now.

WR: Any all time favorite designers?

DB: Hermes or Chanel, accessories wise. I like what St. Laurent has been doing the last few seasons. My favorite pieces are Jackets and Bombers and I like nice, structured blazers by Balmain.

WR: Don’t we all?...!

ON THE ANQUAN BOLDIN FOUNDATION & WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

WR: Your foundation work and charitable contributions are nothing short of amazing! Tell us more?

DB: Thank you very much. We started the foundation in 2004 and originally it was just an opportunity to give however that may be. My husband and I both grew up in underprivileged areas and our thought was that we would create opportunities only for those communities. So that is what we have been doing every since we started. In each city where Anquan has played, we have tried to serve in whatever and wherever that city had its specific needs. About two years ago, we created an endowment: It’s a $1 million dollar scholarship in San Francisco and Palm Beach areas for students who academically deserve and have shown a commitment to community service. Our mindset has always been to give and share wherever there is a need but more specifically, we want to CREATE a mindset of givers as opposed to just leaving a legacy where we were the only ones giving.

WR: Has there been one particular charitable experience or individual story that you really valued?

DB: Yes and I definitely see the results. For example, we had one kid who was expelled from his high school. He later went back and got his GED so we gave him a scholarship and now he’s a teacher and started a mentoring program back home (in FL). You can really change lives and shift their perspective and anybody that has been helped, anyone I have poured into- I hope I have created a mindset that this is what YOU need to do as well. We also have a family in San Francisco right now where the mother was homeless with two boys. We put her in an apartment where all of her bills are paid for, for the next year. She’s now saving money, on track to support herself and I speak to her at least every other week making sure she is doing everything she “should” be doing. I like the building of the relationships as well. We aren’t helping you to leave you. Life is about relationships and serving. There are so many rich people in the world who are mentally poor.

WR: Your Husband was recently awarded the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. What type of impact has this had on you and your family?

DB: It’s impacted us in two ways. It has afforded us a platform to get our message out to a different group. This year as well as the year before he was nominated, we’ve seen such a jump in interest. I also like the notoriety of this award. The NFL finally displaying a positive light on the men enables me to appreciate the League for putting this award, front and center. There are so many guys doing the same kind of work who are as deserving. Secondly, we have been able to spend some personal time with the Payton Family. Growing up, Walter Payton was Anquan’s hero. They (The Paytons) are “who they say they are” and they are great people to be around.

IN CONCLUSION

WR: That is powerful. Shifting a bit as it’s wedding season and you have been married for over 10 years now. Every day, we see another picture of a beautiful bride. Before we wrap up, do you have any veteran marriage advice or tips for a newlywed?

DB: I have learned to prioritize one another and even before your kids. Prioritize your marriage and your spouse, which seems difficult when we have babies running around but putting kids in their place has helped us a lot. During the season, I do what’s uncomfortable for me and sometimes that requires me to do what’s not physically comfortable because I travel to every game. It gives us some time alone so I make it a priority. Keep people out of your business! That means not involving your girlfriends or your mother or father but keep your business at home. In the world of sports, there are a lot of insecurities floating around and rightfully so but, give your husband the opportunity to protect you.

WR: You seem like a lady who gets "it" all done!  Tell us, what do you do in your home that no one else can do?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jq626fEPjzQ

"My Experience at Super Bowl 50": Contest Winner Shares Highlights

Entry written by Super Bowl Contest winner: Angela Porras

Going to the Super Bowl has always been #1 on my bucket list, and is considered a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people. When I found out I had won the contest run by NFL WAGS, I was beside myself. Not only was I ticking this dream off the list, but my favorite team of all time was actually playing! I don't know what the chances of this happening is, but it happened, and there were a lot of things to organize leading up to it. It was a whirlwind trip, but the best experience of my life to date.  I just wanted to give a special thank you to LeShonda Martin and WAGS Redefined for gifting me with this amazing experience (two tickets to the Super Bowl)! I don't know if I would have ever had the chance to do something as special as this, and it meant everything to myself and my guest, CJ. We are forever grateful.

Words couldn't describe my experience, but I hope the pictures will help.

I was still in Australia when I was informed of my win, and wasn't set to come home for a few weeks. I quickly rearranged my flights from L.A. to San Francisco and packed my bags to leave a few days later!

Trying to book a hotel a week before the Super Bowl would have been a nightmare if not for a dear friend residing in SF. Not a bad view! The luck continues...

Once settled in, I had to explore the city. It was still very surreal at this point. San Francisco had really put a lot of effort into transforming the city for the big event!

It's not every day you get to wander the streets and cross paths with NFL Legend Marshall Faulk! Throughout the week, many NFL players engaged positively with fans, and if you were lucky enough some of them even became your Lyft driver!

There were parties everywhere, even on Fisherman's Wharf! Some more exclusive than others, like this Denver Broncos fan party. My invitation was lost in the mail, but that didn't stop me from crashing it!

It wouldn't be a dream vacation without a little shopping. Not sure these are for me but just think: Someone in the world owns these shoes.

The night before the big game, Thomas Davis found out I played women's football. He was so impressed he called up David Gettleman and they put me on the roster. I didn't even have to try out. What are the chances? Not sure how Cam is gonna feel when he finds out he has to change his number.

As you can see, I fit in just fine!

Finally! IT IS GAME DAY. I've never been more excited to be  smashed among the masses as we waited to get in!

The Super Bowl was a star studded event! Elvis even made an appearance, and he roots for the Panthers!!!

Sometimes you just need a larger than life LUUUUUUUUKE.

Here is the most surreal moment of the entire trip. I don't know how to explain the feeling I had taking this photo, seeing this field, getting ready to cheer on the Panthers. Soon after this photo was taken, Lady Gaga took the stage and gave a phenomenal performance of our National Anthem. It was truly an amazing experience.

The Panthers weren't doing so well going into the half, but in all honesty, it was REALLY hard to care once Beyonce hit the stage! All of the performers were incredible, but who can top Queen Bey?!

CJ and I were finally reunited on American soil on game day and had an incredible experience together, and I could not have won this competition without her. She had a crazier schedule than I did, and had no plans to travel to the U.S. until we won this competition. The day after the Super Bowl she flew back to Australia to participate in a football camp to try out for the Australian team!

The outcome of the game wasn't what I had hoped for but I still left that stadium feeling like a winner. A lot of people apologized to me when I returned home, which was confusing. You win some, you lose some and it's your attitude that determines where to go from here. If I had known my team would lose, I wouldn't change a thing.

- Angela

Behind The Brand: Raven Thomas, CEO of The Painted Pretzel

"At first, I didn’t want to do it.  I thought, 'Why would they pick me? I just make chocolate-covered pretzels. It’s not anything glamorous." - Raven Thomas, The Painted Pretzel

There are entrepreneurs and then there are business savvy, mini-moguls who appear on Shark Tank, command the respect and business partnership of heavy hitters such as Mark Cuban and land a life changing --deal of a lifetime overnight. Meet Raven Thomas. She is all of these and much more. I had the pleasure of learning about the woman Behind The Brand. She is genuine, Godly, humble, the wife of retired NFL player Eric Thomas and mother to two young boys. Raven is the Founder and CEO of The Painted Pretzel. Haven’t heard of her genius business and delicious brand? Get acquainted and get motivated!

Name: Raven Thomas

Husband: Eric Thomas

Anniversary: June 24, 2000

Occupation: Entrepreneur (thepaintedpretzel.com)

Husband’s Tenure and Teams: Started with the Jaguars, Buccaneers

Children: Two. Jeremiah (10), Aaron (8)

Cities You've Lived in with NFL: Jacksonville and Tampa

Home: Arizona

Favorite place to visit: San Diego

Your first car: Ford Contour

Music on your playlist: Adele and old school music like LL Cool J. I have a mix of old and new

Hobbies: I like to workout/exercise! CrossFit, Orange Theory Fitness and running sprints are my speed!

Your favorite memory: The day I met my husband.

Q&A

LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?

RT: I’m from Atlanta, Ga. I arrived in Arizona because of my husband’s work.

LM: How did you and your husband meet? What’s your love story?

RT: We met at a party our freshman year of college at FSU. We started talking because neither one of us were dancing and I wasn’t the type to have boyfriends. But he was different; we didn’t see each other again face to face for like a year. My friend used to be lab partners with another football player so I would have her spy in class. When they would do work, she would spy (on him). Fast forward to a few months later, we had a class together over the summer. Once we had that class together, the rest was history…that was 20 years ago.

ON THE NFL:

LM: What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?

RT: Well, we got married when we were 24 so we were young. A challenge for me was not being able to settle down in a way. We lived in Jacksonville but then we lived in Tampa. NFL sent him to NFL Europe and then he came back so it’s just very unstable. That part is hard. I ended up going back to school and getting my Masters but not when I wanted to because of the instability. When I did go back, I was flying back and forth. He wasn’t a superstar so it was more like “will he have a job next week?” and that part is also tough to deal with. It is stressful.  He was in the NFL for two years and then he played (in the) arena league. He had a stable contract with arena and he was very good at that. Of course the fact still remains that one injury could cause you to lose your job. When Eric left the game, he left on his own. His transition was very easy in that he didn’t long to play anymore.

LM: What is one piece of advice you can give to other women that you wish you would have known prior to your husband playing in the league?

RT: Probably that it’s not what I expected. I don’t know what I expected but I know it wasn’t that. Expect the unexpected! For a few families it’s different, but for the masses it is not glamorous!

LM: Do you believe there are any misconceptions or stereotypes of NFL WAGS? If so, what is your view?

RT: Yes. I think that a lot of times WAGS are seen as gold diggers or just trying to “come up”, get a meal ticket or are in it for the glamour (of it all). I remember someone told me, “Oh, you came up.” That was funny because we’ve been together since he was on the bench at FSU. Sometimes that (“come up”) does happen but overall with most of the women I’ve met, that’s not the case. The other misconception is that these women live off their husbands which is also not true.

ON SHARK TANK:

Editor’s Notes: The Painted Pretzel partnered with Mark Cuban for $100,000 in return for 25% equity in the pretzel business.  Result – The Painted Pretzel is selling in hundreds of stores and has partnered with Landmark Theaters thanks to Mark Cuban.

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LM: Let’s talk about your business, The Painted Pretzel for a moment. Tell us how your idea came about and what the journey has been like?

RT: Well, it came about by me going to a spa. Clarification, my sister worked at a spa. The owner would make little snacks around holiday time (Thanksgiving, I believe) where she would have little chocolate-covered pretzels and candies but I recall thinking that she could do better than that. I also liked the idea of giving them as Christmas gifts because I was pregnant with my second child and didn’t want to spend any money on gifts. I did it and everyone liked them, like a lot! Because I am a perfectionist -I said to myself that I need a website (probably didn’t need one at the time) but, people started buying them and it started to grow from there. After that, I thought maybe I could sell them in a store so I took the pretzels to a candy convention in Chicago and I received really big orders from all these stores. It was never my plan to have a business.

LM: Talk about the Shark Tank experience and how that came about?

RT: I hadn’t seen the show before. My father-in-law watched it and suggested I watch it and try to get on the show. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought, “Why would they pick me? I just make chocolate-covered pretzels. It’s not anything glamorous.” I ended up sending in an email to the show explaining my business. I didn’t hear back for nearly a year. I had completely forgotten about even wanting to be on the show. One day, the casting director for Shark Tank called me to see if I was still interested. They had already made their choices for the season I applied to but they had saved my application. I almost thought it was a joke it was so random.  I still had to send in my video because I hadn’t done that yet (I had only sent an email). My husband filmed me in our home kitchen. It was hilarious! To this day, I think they picked me because they said this girl cannot be serious. It was unedited. My husband filmed it on his way out the door- one take and that was it, we sent it in.

LM: What role does Mark Cuban play in your business and how has it been working with him?

RT: He’s not involved with the day-to-day operations of the business. He gave me money and if ever I need to contact him, I send him an email and he will respond really quickly. He has a million people who work for him (marketing etc.) so whatever you need; it’s readily available.  At this point, most of our things are made at a huge candy factory. They’re not technically my staff but they make it for me.  I have one person who really helps me with the day to day. I’m very hands on and I am a perfectionist so there is still a lot about our business that I like to oversee. Most of the manufacturing details, I hand off elsewhere.

LM: How did the Shark Tank episode affect your business?

RT:  It’s funny because I made the deal in June but, my episode didn’t air until February. No one knew and I couldn’t tell anyone. For that period of time I ran my business as normal. Literally the moment after it aired, my business grew 1500%! I knew right when my segment aired because my sales jumped immediately! Just being on Shark Tank alone, my business grew. From there, it’s just continued to grow. I’ve been in over 6000 stores and before the show I was in all the Neiman Marcus stores. After, I was in TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and then doors opened to where I had to actually decline offers. I’ve been in movie theaters also! Before the show, I was getting turned away from some places. That part is shocking, really.

LM: It sounds like the show really catapulted your business!

RT: Being in front of millions of people changes things. Customers are calling, emailing and ordering. It wasn’t this beautiful, lovely thing. It was actually just chaos! It was wonderful and terrible at the same time because it was just so much to deal with. I think my episode is the most-aired on CNBC. I could not pay for that kind of publicity. People ask me, how do you get on? And I say “I don’t know.” During my season, somewhere around 34,000 people applied.

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LM: What do you think makes you different?

RT: I think I’m just not afraid to fail. When I went on Shark Tank, I kept getting asked if I was nervous. The only moment I was nervous was when I walked down that long hallway when they call your name. I just didn’t want to fall! Once I got to my spot, I was fine. I did care if they gave me a deal but not to the point where it would change anything. For me, I’m not living by someone else’s standards. I’ve failed many times in business and I think that’s big. That is resilience.

LM: What’s one piece of advice you can give aspiring female entrepreneurs?

RT: Do not be afraid! If you have a dream birthed in your heart, go do it! You shouldn’t let it die there. Whether you are successful or not (and success should be defined by yourself) you should at least try! If you allow your dream to die, it’s like living a life unfulfilled.

ON HERSELF:

LM: What would you like people to know about you?

RT: I’m just a regular girl who once I got started with my business-- I just couldn’t stop. I’ve attempted to stop before, but I felt like this was the path God had for me and everything I’m about is about Jesus. I live for Him on purpose but everything else is accident.

LM: What are your goals?

RT: At this point I’ve decided I just want to really enjoy life. I want to enjoy the things that are around me: family, business, and life in general. At times, I can get so busy that I don’t have time to enjoy anything else. I still work 65 hours per week in the business but I had to start shutting it down for at least a week around the holidays. It’s good to aspire to do and be more but that shouldn’t be your main focus. I’ve accomplished a lot already so I need to be able to step back and say job well done. My goals are to enjoy what I’ve done, enjoy our kids and not let the business be the center of my attention.

LM: What are you most proud of?

RT: I’m proud that I didn’t lock myself in a box (as of yet). I’ve been willing to go where and how I wanted to go instead of going along with how other people think I should. I think that takes a lot of courage. I started this business eight years ago and it was after my first year that I attended the candy show (in Chicago). When I was there, I heard “Oh, that’s a really cute idea” like I should try something else because my idea was silly. I heard that multiple times. I never let the negative talk change my mind or deter me. I just kept going. The arena league folded around the time I went to Chicago and when that happened my husband didn’t have a job but, we had money saved. This was a crossroad for us where I could either try to make it into retail stores and really make this into a business knowing my husband didn’t have a job or I could go get a job.  I could’ve gotten a job – but that’s not where I was supposed to be.

LM: What are you passionate about?

RT: I’m most passionate about living a life that’s pleasing to God where people can see me and know what I stand for. I’m passionate about my family remaining focused on things of God. No matter what we have, what we’ve been given; being able to stay centered on Him is important. Through the ups and downs, neither has broken me because I stay focused on Him.

Jonesing for the NFL Life

We have all heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses,” but for the NFL Family this can be very dangerous. One of the first things I tell my clients is “contrary to popular belief everyone in the NFL is not a millionaire.” Matter of fact, most players are not millionaires and most won’t ever be in that tax bracket solely based on their NFL contracts. From private flights to the infamous red bottom shoe wall, the stereotypical NFL life can be every family’s dream. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to fly private? No pesky security lines or stress of fitting your entire life into 50 pounds or less. But the reality is sometimes flying commercial now prevents you from being broke later. The Athlete

Immediately after players declare for the draft, they are propelled into a life of temptation. From expensive watches or loan advancements for new cars, the stereotypical NFL life seems to be a dream come true. Most players are instantly persuaded by agents, homeboys, family members and even some NFL teammates that they should live like a baller. The irony in this is that most of those influencers who push for the elaborate lifestyle would not be able to live the lifestyle without the generosity of the player.

For the athlete, the pressure to live a lavish lifestyle is very real. They must have the latest Jordan’s and designer brands including the famous Louis belt. Yes clothes, cars and bags are important but the true burden comes from nightlife spending. During the lockout, several players flocked to Miami to train but to also party. We have all heard of “Liv on Sunday,” and Liv was definitely aware of all of the NFL money that was in town. Players spending between $7,000 and $10,000 on a table every weekend was the norm, and complaining about it was simply unacceptable. No one cares about “how their accounts are set up.” If they are in the club, then they are buying tables because once they become a NFL player the expectation of high end living is the new standard.

The Family

The athlete isn’t the only one facing the pressures of living high. NFL wives are judged by their bags, shoes, cars and even eyelashes. Yes even eyelashes! From elaborate weddings and discussions about who has the biggest ring, the standards are high even if your accounts are low. Eyes are watching and unfortunately this is the downfall of a lot of NFL families. Wives aren’t the only ones who fall victim to the extravagant life, family members and homeboys who all of a sudden can no longer take care of themselves and assume the player is now responsible for their existence are some of the biggest culprits in perpetuating the bravado.

The Reality

The truth is some players don’t learn that they can’t keep up with the Joneses until they are already knee deep in debt. Car payments, multiple mortgages, high credit card limits, and countless depreciating assets create unnecessary stress on both the athlete and the family. Someone who is making $500,000 a year can’t live the same lifestyle that someone who is making $10,000,000 a year without some pretty crafty investing. Unfortunately, I have witnessed it all from selling all they had to sending out mass texts to people they barely know asking for $20,000 loans.

The reality: Don’t let the time in the NFL be a waste. Become the Jones don’t try to keep up with them.

For more information on how to start a business or a nonprofit, email me at tpatterson@definitivesportsrepresentation.com.

Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.

Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless

Lemon Parmesan Crusted Cod; a Whole Foods "score!"

I have to be weary when I send my husband to the grocery store alone. Not because he forgets things or buys junk food; he is very likely to pick up an item that sounds good and just propose I whip it up real quick… Well a recent trip to Whole Foods returned a couple gorgeous pieces of Atlantic Cod. I don’t cook a ton of fish, but when I do…

For an easy and healthy lunch, I whipped up lemon parmesan crusted Atlantic Cod, leftover grilled asparagus, cauliflower mash, and some sautéed spinach. It got his seal of approval and took less than 30 minutes to prepare.

The fish is light, fresh, and is perfect for hot summer days or if you're just trying to lean up in time for the summer!

Lemon Parmaesan Cod WAGs Ingredients

2 pieces of meaty white fish

1/2 C of grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

1/4 tsp pepper

fresh parsley, minced

olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.
  2. Mix grated parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and pepper in a shallow dish.
  3. lightly drizzle the fish with olive oil. Just enough so that the parmesan mixture adheres.
  4. Coat each side of the fish with mixture.
  5. Bake for 12- 15 minutes. Fish will be white and flaky.
  6. Top with chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  7. enjoy!

TIPS

I always purchase either whole pieces of parmesan cheese or the shredded variety. To get grated parmesan cheese, all you have to do it pulse it in a blender.

For the cauliflower mash, boil a head of cauliflower till fork tender. Drain. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Use an immersion blender, or a food processor to pulse till smooth. If too chunky, add more butter or a little milk. Season just like you would mashed potatoes!

The crust for the fish is something I have also done on a chicken breast. To lessen the amount of parmesan cheese, add a 1/4 c of whole wheat panko crumbs and bake for longer.

Welcome to the NFL! Making all WAGS feel welcome takes a conscious effort

We all remember the crazy year our NFL lives began. Whether your man went drafted or undrafted, things happen rather quickly.  Our innocent, bright-eyed dreams could never conjure up the things to come. My journey began in Dallas while my now-husband teetered from practice squad to the 53-man roster. Coming from small-town Midwest, it was definitely a culture shock when I showed up to my first game in jeans and a tee. I stood among lavishly-dressed women with their beautiful selves and perfect hair. I obviously didn't fit in. I stuck out so badly that when I waited for Andre after games, security would ask me if I needed help! I must have looked like some jersey-chasing weirdo waiting an hour after each game to catch a glimpse of a player, haha. That's how cool I am, guys. But not only did I stick out, I did not meet one wife in the entire two years with the Cowboys. How sad to think of all the women falling through the cracks on every team?

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We all come from different backgrounds and see the world in our own way. We have different morals and don't always agree on things; but we all have one, big interest in common! The best way I've heard it described was at our annual Raiders Women's Association Luncheon. The speaker said something along these lines: "No one knows the struggles you encounter like the person sitting next to you; not your mother, sister, or best friend but definitely the woman in the seat next to you." Nothing could be more true! We can describe our struggles and victories until we're blue in the face to our family or friends but not one of them can fully understand like another WAG.

Our community just welcomed roughly 200+ women, following the draft this past weekend. I want to reach out to every woman associated with a player and remind you what it feels like to step into new territory. Remember all the different emotions that emerged after being uprooted from your comfort zone. Remember the frenzy of moving and not knowing what pediatrician or dentist to use. But smile when you think of that first connection you made with a fellow WAG; the first time you were invited out to eat or the mom group that began your great friendships.

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Photo Credits: @kellypray, @asia1012, @butseriously21

Empowering Women: Tapping into our inner and outer beauty

"I want to redefine how the cosmetic industry caters to ethnic women while empowering all women of all ages to tap into their inner and outer beauty."

The gorgeous Nicole Camack is on a mission to elevate the beauty and cosmetic industry. When she is not making others look and feel beautiful, she is taking care of her boyfriend Marcus Gilchrist, safety for the New York Jets and their beautiful baby girl Sophia.

"Where did you and Marcus first meet? What is your greatest joy about being in a relationship? Being a mom?"

Our relationship started as a long distance commitment, after a blind date arranged by a childhood friend,  we had instant chemistry, lots of similar interests and a good vibe going on between us. He was playing for the San Diego Chargers in California and I was a workaholic in New York City. We made so many sacrifices to make our long distance relationship work, and my greatest joy is knowing that I found my soulmate who loves and supports me through all of life's ups and downs. My greatest joy about being a mom is that every day,  I get to wake up to my happy angel baby. Being a mother is the HARDEST job I have ever done but it is truly one of my greatest accomplishments.

When did you decide you wanted to pursue your dream as a stylist, artist, and leader in product development?  What inspired you to pursue this journey? I was always creative and "dibbled and dabbled" in different realms of the beauty industry since I was a little girl. After graduating from the University of Baltimore with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing, I moved to New York City, a major hub for the beauty industry and a pivotal career move in helping me succeed in the cosmetic product development industry.  My serious love for beauty and fashion coupled with my Marketing Degree landed me with a position with 24seven, an elite agency that places top talent with some of the most renowned creative companies in the world.  I obtained a phenomenal opportunity with one of the top leaders in the makeup industry and a creative director for a few prominent cosmetic lines. Needless to say, I was awarded the position and the rest is history.

What made you create a Beauty and Style channel on YouTube?  YouTube is a powerful tool to reach the masses and my ultimate goal is to teach and inspire. Makeup application can be intimidating but, I want to encourage people to be creative with their makeup and allow it to bring out their inner creative genius. I also want to promote and instill that beauty begins from within. Finally, with the recent rise of cyber bullying; I just want to help young women raise their self esteem level and master their own perception of beauty.

How do you balance supporting Marcus, taking care of your family and chasing your own dreams? Is there ever any guilt, frustrations or added stress when juggling both of your hectic schedules?  Being a mom is rewarding but also exhausting; however, Marcus and I are a great team. As our daughter learns and grows we are learning and growing with her throughout this journey. The beauty of our relationship is no matter how busy life gets, we always make quality time for each other.

What would you tell other women that may be interested in pursuing a similar  career path? No one is you and that is your power!

Life Mantra or favorite quote.“Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love". -Don Miguel Ruiz

For more information about Nicole's style and beauty tips, follow her social media pages IG: ncamak snap: ncamak24 Twitter: Ncamak Facebook: search Nicole Camak

Why 'Jersey Chasers' Have No Idea What They're Getting Into

As my husband and I pushed through a sea of people at one of the Super Bowl parties in downtown San Francisco, he bent over and whispered in my ear, "It's feeding season here for the single guys." I wasn't sure if I detected a hint of envy in his comment (ha ha) or if he was just making an observation as he looked over to one of the spotlights in the upcoming NFL Combine. I looked around to see the stereotypical scene of an athlete surrounded by the eye roll-worthy species...jersey chasers.

I don't consider myself naïve to the fact that more than a few women desire a man with status and money. But for some reason I'm always appalled when I see it unfold in real life. Especially because every NFL wife I've met is the complete opposite. They weren't looking for a handout when they met their now- husband. A lot of us didn't pick this life because we didn't know professional football was up next. Most of us met a struggling, college student who couldn't afford a dinner at Applebee's.

During our five seasons in the NFL, I have met quite a few football wives. Not ONCE have I met a woman that wanted to sit at home and look pretty, or who got pregnant to be "set for life." They all have their careers, passions, foundations, businesses, and families. All of them, including myself, struggle with identity issues and feeling unaccomplished when careers are put on hold. I've never met such a driven group that "doesn't need to work."

Yes, we have money. But with this life comes so much more than financial freedom.

Being with an athlete has relocated most of us across-country— separating us from all our friends and family. Entire seasons in Extended Stay hotels is our norm. We don't get to hang pictures or buy décor for our temporary space because we don't know when we'll leave. We are the moving company every time our husband is released and immediately leaves for the next state. We keep a lot of our belongings in boxes. Some of us have moved to three different teams in one season. We make best friends only to be torn away from them within seconds of roster changes; some veteran wives don't even bother making new friends because of this sad reality.

Forget about any sense of support for your wants and needs. Oh, you're expecting during season or just broke your leg while the team is at an away game? You better pull out your phone and request an Uber to the hospital (If you don't know me, I'm obviously exaggerating but you get the point).

We deal with the rollercoaster of stresses our husbands experience each season. We struggle with an 'in-season' and 'off-season' husband— a struggle only Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde's wife knows.

I think girls actively seeking out an athlete envision the typical trophy wife enjoying her $30 salad while complaining to her friend how her contractor used eggshell instead of creamed coffee in the master bedroom. But I've never had a salad equivalent to a pair of shoes, and I just had to google a paint color similar to eggshell.

While I stand and witness women that think this life is what they want, I can't help but wish they knew what they're really getting into. Our lives are filled with: uncertainty, stress, yearly moves, injuries, job insecurity, and isolation.

Most of us wouldn't change it for the world, but we wouldn't choose it for our family either.

NFL Player Engagement Programs Focus on Life Beyond the NFL

Playing in the NFL is a dream for many but only attained by few. It is a small fraternity of men and their families that are connected forever. The NFL launched the NFL Families initiative that not only focused on active players but former players as well, and how they defined FAMILY. It’s more than adorable Dad-Do commercials and invigorating ads, the NFL Family initiative is bridging that gap between the images of fantasy players to seeing players as real people too! Part of this initiative includes the NFL Player Engagement (NFLPE) which focuses on three themes: Prep, Life, and Next. NFLplayer_engagement

 

NFL Prep is for high school and college student-athletes of all sports, and provides them with tools to help them succeed in life, focused on awareness, prevention, and education. NFL Life provides active NFL players with professional and personal development resources, “while supporting and educating players’ families to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by their NFL experience.” NFL Next Legends “serve, equip, and empower former players and their families during the transition from their NFL experience and throughout their lives.” See www.nflplayerengagement.com for more information.

Many players have taken advantage of the various resources available through the NFL Player Engagement. However, there are some players who are completely unaware of the benefits of these resources during their career and in planning for their post-NFL career. From coaching boot camps to personal finance workshops, the Player Engagement programs prove to be worth it. Some programs are even open to spouses. See below for some of the programs scheduled for this year:

 

personal-financeNFL BOOT CAMP PERSONAL FINANCE: April 4th-April 7th, 2016

This program will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida offering a relaxed learning environment for current and former players and their significant others. This year’s program will provide participants the opportunity to acquire knowledge that directly relates to their finances and lifestyles. Education will be provided by TD Ameritrade and the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration.

sports-journalism

NFL BOOT CAMP SPORTS JOURNALISM & RADIO: April 14th-17th, 2016

Sports Journalism and Radio Boot Camp will take place at Bowling Green State University. This boot camp provides the opportunity for current and former players to enhance their writing skills, build journalism and radio portfolios, and receive on-site feedback and mentoring from ESPN Radio, Westwood One, and Bowling Green faculty. Following the completion of this boot camp, qualified candidates may have the opportunity to participate on ESPN Radio.

advanced-broadcastingNFL BOOT CAMP ADVANCED BROADCASTING: May 16th - 19th, 2016

The NFL Advanced Broadcast Boot Camp takes place in Mt. Laurel, NJ at NFL Films and is open to those who have completed Broadcasting Boot Camp. This provides the opportunity to build on the foundation from previous training and strengthen broadcasting skills. This program provides increased knowledge and follow through with more possible job opportunities and internships.

broadcastingNFL BOOT CAMP BROADCASTING: May 16th-19th, 2016

This year Player Engagement celebrates the 10th annual Broadcasting Boot Camp. Broadcasting Boot Camp provides players on-set training in broadcasting to build experience and determine interests. Players can explore multiple on-air job functions in television/media. Key learnings include: Tape study, show preparation, field reporting, and production meetings.

bill_walsh_minority_coaching620_330Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship

Providing talented minority coaches an opportunity to observe and participate during NFL OTA’s, mini and training camp and assist them in gaining experience to pursue a full-time NFL coaching position.

 

Resources

MyGoalline.com

In this site, you will find information about your benefits as an NFL player. These benefits protect you while you play, help ease the transition to life and work after football, and provide a base upon which to build for your retirement. We believe that, overall, these benefits are the best available in professional sports. https://www.mygoalline.com/

All Pro Dads

Our message will inspire you to embrace who you are, give you tenderness of heart, and boldness of character as a dad and husband. We are consistently here for you to provide guidance and practical tips in raising your kids in a life giving way.  http://www.allprodad.com/

NFL Foundation

The NFL Foundation is the league’s nonprofit organization representing the 32 NFL clubs. Its mission is to support the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities which support our game. http://www.nflfoundation.org/

Professional Football Wives Association

The Professional Football Wives Association (PFWA) was founded on a mission comprised of three basic tenets: Faith, Family and Football. PFWA's mission is to be a faith based organization that promotes unity and friendship among football wives, fiancées, and girlfriends, that positively redefines the stereotypes of NFL families, and that serves as a support system for women of the NFL. http://www.profootballwives.org

Don’t see a program you like? Contact the NFL Player Engagement office at www.nflplayerengagement.com for more information.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin

For more information email me at: tpatterson@definitivesportsrepresentation.com!

Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.

Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless

Facebook: Tenisha Patterson Brown

Instagram: @TPattBrown

Twitter: @TPatt12

SnapChat: TPattBrown

Professional Football Wives Association Gives Back to Chicago Community

PFWA and Chicago Dream Center
PFWA and Chicago Dream Center

Members of the Professional Football Wives Association (PFWA) recently assisted the Chicago Dream Center shelter for homeless women and children with a day of service in Chicago, IL. The ladies were given a tour of the facility and asked to keep the location private. Tenisha Patterson-Brown, LeShonda Martin, Leslie Randle, and Martrice Caldwell prepared and served meals, handed out toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste, read books to the children, and offered words of encouragement.

Tenisha Patterson-Brown, wife of seven-year veteran Everette Brown, traveled from Charlotte for the day but felt she received more than she gave: “We had an amazing and blessed time. It was truly an experience that we won’t forget. They were so grateful and appreciative.” Executive Director of Chicago Dream Center, Kaitrin Valencia, expressed gratitude over the ladies volunteering their time to connect with the families on a deeper level: “Many of these kids have never been read to. It may not seem like a lot but it means so much.”

The Chicago Dream Center is a 501 (c)(3) that offers faith-based programs and services to assist low income, homeless, trafficking survivors and under-served individuals and families move toward self sufficiency. They are a partner of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago and strive to meet the practical needs of people while sharing with them faith, hope, and love (chicagodreamcenter.org).

LeShonda Martin, wife of veteran safety Sherrod Martin, traveled from Atlanta for the weekend to participate with PFWA Chicago members:

It’s so important to reach out and touch those who have fallen on hard times. Some of the women were victims of domestic violence which is a cause near to my heart. We made sure to let the women and children know that we were no different from them and that they could be anything they wanted to be. PFWA is a faith-based organization and we love what the Chicago Dream Center is doing for their community, offering not only financial help and support but ministering to and loving on people as well.

Next January, PFWA has plans to tour the Chicago Dream Center’s safe house, the facility where victims of human trafficking are housed after being rescued. To take action and get involved with the various ministries of the Chicago Dream Center, visit chicagodreamcenter.org.

To join the PFWA sisterhood and find out more information about upcoming events, visit profootballwives.org. For membership information, contact info@pfwamembers.com.

Get Social with PFWA:

Instagram - @profootballwives

Twitter - @profootballwo

Facebook – facebook.com/pfwa15

Super Bowl 50: How to Bring Home a Winning Marriage

First Published on the National Football League Player Engagement Website. Super Bowl 50 is just around the corner. It is sure to be a fabulous weekend where stars will walk red carpets past real and imaginary seas of adoring fans. Cameras will click both to boost the egos of those in attendance and to give the media outlets a chance to score pictures of some of the hottest names in sports and entertainment. Fans will pour in from all over the world to celebrate their favorite teams competing for the Lombardi trophy. Invite-only parties will commence all over the city. Inside, those on corporate expense accounts mingle with recognizable sports faces and others who were lucky enough to slip in as a part of a star’s entourage.

Last year, my husband and I were in the latter category, his NFC championship ring holding no power to get our names on the invite-only lists to which his more high-profile friends were invited. Free-flowing drinks, tray-passed foods, and fashionable young people filled the rooms. But even among the facade of fame, I couldn’t help but notice the number of married people who were there alone. I also couldn’t help but notice the number of women, married and not, who circled the single-in-attendance athletes like piranhas ready to strike. Despite my focus on them, it wasn’t just the athletes who attracted attention. Men and women on corporate expense accounts flirted their way to and from parties, over cocktails in their nicest outfits for co-workers and strangers while their spouses presumably slept at home.

Sure, some stars are paid to be there and think of it as work. Others are just business men and women who have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the Super Bowl. But as the wife of a retired athlete, after seeing what I saw, I couldn’t rest peacefully knowing my husband was in the shark tank, regardless of why he was there.

I’m sure that Super Bowl parties are not the only corporate events that invite married people to forget their morals and their marriages. But as a woman who champions monogamy, I implore you to protect your marriage regardless of how exciting a party might seem. Players and teams throughout the NFL work hard year round to put themselves in the position to be successful. Many of those teams trip up through the long NFL season and end up with a losing record. Only the teams that have the discipline and determination to succeed make it to the playoffs.

Marriage and relationships are no different. As a marriage grows in years, so do the stakes. No team would knowingly put themselves in a position to lose, so why put yourself or your spouse in a position to fail? Don’t go out alone. If you can’t be there together, don’t go. There is nothing that can make the potential loss worth more than the experience. Super Bowl events are spectacular. If you have the chance to attend Super Bowl 50 or any other fun event with your spouse, be there together and live the experiences together. Let the experience propel your marriage with happy memories that you create together instead of tempting fate in a way that may ultimately drive you apart.

After the NFL: Yonka and Ryan Clark Know Family Values

This week's WAG Feature is on Yonka Clark, wife of Ryan Clark, and mother of three. I first heard about Yonka from my friend Sara, another NFL wife who stated that Yonka taught her a lot during their time with the Steelers. Sara raved about Ryan and Yonka's relationship and parenting skills, so I had to learn more about this supportive and inspiring woman. One conversation with Yonka and I can see why so many are drawn to her. She has this warmth about her and wisdom for days. Read my interview with Mrs. Clark below...

 

  • Children: Daughter Jaden (17), son Jordan (14), and daughter Loghan (11)
  • Cities You've Lived in with NFL: visited NY and NJ, married after 2nd year in New York; Northern Virginia, and Pittsburgh
  • Current City you call Home: Baton Rouge, LA
  • Favorite place to visit: I love Puerto Rico. I would visit once a month if I could. The food, music, colors, vibrancy…there's something about the spirit of Puerto Rico that just does it for me.
  • Your first car: 1998 white Dodge Neon
  • Music on your playlist: Adele "Hello", Tamar Braxton and Future "Let Me Know" (those two songs are on rotation)
  • Hobbies: I absolutely love skincare. My 11 year-old owns her own business so I am also her momager.

Money is not some sort of elixir that masks you from all the normal troubles that come with being a human being. - Yonka Clark

Q&A

PERSONAL DETAILS:

LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?

YC:

I am from a really tiny town called Ama, Louisiana. It is so small that we don't even have a traffic light. It's funny because the Landry brothers (Dawan and LaRon Landry) who both play in the NFL and Pokie Chatman (WNBA head coach) are from the same town. We're all related in some way.

LM: How did you and Ryan meet? What's your love story?

YC:

Ryan and I met at my cousin's high school graduation picnic. He was friends with my cousin, Haven. We knew of each other, and when we first met we did not like each other. I just felt like he was this arrogant football player and all the girls were falling all over him; I was not interested. He thought I was the snootiest, meanest girl he'd ever met. We both attended college at LSU but Ryan was a year older than me. LSU is huge so seeing a familiar face as a freshman in college was comforting…it changed the way we perceived one another. The rest is history, and this year, we celebrate 12 years of marriage.

ON THE NFL:

LM: What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?

YC:

My approach was a bit different than most women. I did not like the title "NFL wife" because I was not married to the NFL; I am married to Ryan. The NFL wasn't my identity and it wasn't what made me me. Having that mentality helped when it came to retirement as well because there wasn't this attachment to the league. I just wanted to be a good wife and mother.

Whatever energy I had left, I wanted to help other people.

What I liked most about the NFL was getting to know like-minded women who just wanted to support their husbands. The NFL life is an exclusive, yet shared experience. Those women became a network of people to support you through certain things that family and other people won't understand. Not to seem like we're better than anyone but there are things that others outside the life just won't understand.

LM: What is one piece of advice you can give to other women that you wish you would have known prior to your husband entering the NFL?

YC:

You're enough. You, as you, are enough. You don't have to wear this label, or look like this, or talk like that, or sit in here, or drive that car. You are perfect as you are. Another thing I would say, especially to new wives, fiancés and girlfriends: care more about the commitment that comes with your ring than the carats that are in your ring. I've seen women discussing rings and ring sizes. Rings don't keep you warm at night. They don't roll over in the middle of the night and bear hug you. They just don't.

LM: Do you believe there are any misconceptions of NFL WAGS? If so, what is your view?

YC:

Oh my gosh! There's a million of them and you don't have enough time. I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that having a large income fixes everything! Your husband making a lot of money fixes everything. Since my husband makes a lot of money, I shouldn't complain about anything. I shouldn't have any issues. I'm sorry, but that's not real life. I think if there's anything I wish would go away, it's that. Money is not some sort of elixir that masks you from all the normal troubles that come with being a human being. That's major for me.

POST-NFL Life:

LM: Talk about what the transition has been like since Ryan retired?

YC:

We've been out an entire season now. It's great because he's been working for ESPN so he's still plugged in and he's part-owner in a training facility here in Baton Rouge: Traction. His job with ESPN helped to ease the withdrawal symptoms that some guys feel when they have to step away from the game. Ryan was very smart about setting up his post-NFL life while still playing the game.

NFL players always have some sort of extra requirement besides playing on the field, such as interviews. On a call to ESPN, Ryan said, "I'd love to come in and do an internship." He started to forge those relationships around year 8 or 9. His commitment to work in the offseason, unpaid for ESPN, really set him up for what he's doing now. He has a 75-day contract. He flies there and then he's home the rest of the time. He still sits on the executive board for NFLPA and holds a position with the organization's Mentorship Program. This year will be his final year on the executive board. He is still trying to make a connection between high schoolers, the NFL, and NFL union. His goal is to effect those who are eventually going to be at the NFL at an earlier point.

We never vacationed during the offseason. There was really no time as he worked at ESPN and rehabbed and trained for the next season. There were times we missed him, but I supported him through that. Looking back on it, I'm so glad I did because he walked straight out of football and into not one, not two, but three jobs! I just wish I could stress that the NFL is temporary to the women in this position. Even if you have a 13, 14, or 15-year career, there is going to be life after football. I think it's important the guys and their wives talk about life after football while he's still active and plan accordingly. The NFLPA (

NFL Players Association

) has these amazing off-season career building programs for our guys. Unfortunately, most of the time the NFLPA resources are not taken advantage of.

ESPN: Ryan Clark thoughts on Cam Newton

https://vimeo.com/119999938

LM: What are you able to do now as a family that you weren't able to when Ryan played for the NFL?

YC:

Definitely having Ryan present for a lot of the kids' events and award ceremonies has been special. Ryan was in the NFL for 13 years so that was a large portion of our kids' lives and they understood what came with his job. When you're in the NFL, football comes first. It just is what it is. There are no holidays, sick days, etc. They [kids] also understood that even during the offseason, he probably still wouldn't be able to be there. Our family has dinner once a week where we go out and hang; He's just more accessible to us now. For us, that's a big deal! That's Disney world to us. We call ourselves the Clark 5. We were away from extended family for all those years so we became our own little unit.

LM: I've noticed that many people, in and out of the NFL, seem to adore the relationship you have with your husband and also admire how you both are raising your children. What do you think has been the key to your success? Talk about your family values.

YC:

When coming into the NFL, you see a lot of different set ups of what the family can look like. We kind of did them all. The first three years Ryan was in the league, the kids and I were home in Louisiana and he was in New York and Virginia. When we were with the Steelers, some seasons we stayed in Pittsburgh year round. Other seasons we started school in Pittsburgh and spent the other half of the year at the home base [in Louisiana]. Our biggest priority was always that we stayed together. Ryan didn't have to parent long distance and I didn't have to parent as a single mom without him. We're from the South so family is extremely important to us. We wanted our kids to first and foremost be kids, even though they were in extraordinary environments. We're hard on them. We teach "Yes ma'am. No ma'am" in our household; there's discipline. Our children understand that there are boundaries for them but they're for good reasons.

LM: Is there any advice you would like to give NFL families regarding life in the NFL or after?

YC:

The first thing I'll say is there is no handbook or guidelines. You have to do what works best for your family. You have to decide what's right and what's perfect for your situation. It can be tough talking to women because I don't want to influence them: "Oh, we've been married all these years and we've done it this way so that's the best way." It's just not true. As a family, you do have to make a commitment at the very beginning to put aside any selfishness. The commitment needs to be there far after the warm and fuzzy feelings leave. Trust me, the warm and fuzzy feelings will leave sometimes. It gets rough. No matter how good it is, it's going to get rough. You have to make the commitment to be there. It really is about constant adjustment. You have to be flexible.

ON HERSELF:

LM: What would you like people to know about you?

YC:

Well, that's kind of hard because I never really want people to know anything about me. My children are the only perfect thing that I've ever done in life. If I can create three little people who are productive and healthy human beings, then I feel like I've done my job as their mother.

It's difficult for me to see life beyond them, though I'm transitioning now. I am in the process of developing a tween skincare line. My Lolo (daughter Loghan) is starting to have facial issues and I'm unsure of what to use. My two passions are children and skincare so now that my own kids are getting older, I am pursuing that avenue. I'm big on organics and natural products. I actually have a girlfriend who has her own skincare company: Andrelle's by KCJ. She and I are collaborating on this line.

LM: You mentioned that your youngest daughter Loghan has her own business. What's it like as her momager?

YC:

Loghan has always had a passion for cooking. She was tiny and standing on a chair helping me in the kitchen. When we finally let her get an Instagram about a year ago, she started following all these bakers. She said "Mommy, can I try this or try that?" Over time, her desire to try out new recipes developed into a baking business, Yummy Desserts by Lolo, LLC. Loghan is running her business on her own.

She's a one-woman marketing tool. She will talk to people and hand out her business cards. All of her desserts are custom and hand made. She's dedicated and cares about what people think about her craft. She wants to do right by her customers. She'll say, "Well mom, they're paying for this so it needs to be right!" I don't know where she gets it from. It's not like my 10-year-old has gone to business school. People are amazed when they see it's not me doing it! It's her.

It's a difficult situation as a 35-year-old woman taking orders from a 10 year-old but we want to support her dreams. She'll make a list of things she needs and I'll go get them! Although she's running a successful business, she still plays volleyball and plays with dolls.

Our oldest daughter is in fashion design and my son is into sports. I think the NFL environment has matured them. They are comfortable in every situation. They're comfortable being kids and they're comfortable being in a room full of adults. That's rare. I'm learning everyday that that's rare.

I need them to be okay so when the world says that they're not okay, they'll respond with "No, that's not what my mom says." You can make your own way.

LM: What are your goals?

YC:

The biggest thing for me is finding my place outside of Ryan and the kids but still striking a balance. I still want to be able to maintain being his support system and being there for our children. Ryan travels a lot for work and when he comes home, it's important to me that he returns to a clean home, happy kids, a fresh dinner; the comforts of home. Home is where he relaxes. I don't want to drop that because he still needs that. That is my role as his wife. I want to maintain being a support system to my family, but I also want to step out being Yonka. This is where I say, "To be continued." This is a new year and it's fresh and I'm approaching things I haven't before.

It's scary and exciting.

-LM